Jennifer Sanders started working with glass in 2017. She found herself working at a shop that sold glassmaking materials and allowed local artists to rent benches to bring their art to life. But at the time, she knew nothing about it. She ended up befriending several of the artists there, who spent time teaching her the terminology and showing her the ropes until she got the go-ahead to try it herself. She started with coldworking, which evolved into flameworking.
“The first piece I made was actually a set of 500 one-inch glass rings. I had no idea what I was doing but I was given the task to cut glass tubing on a table saw, then arrange them on a graphite plate and flame polish them as a group with a hand torch. I had to master running the tip of the flame in a continuous even circle around the inside of the ring and then the outside of the ring for each individual piece,” she said.
“The process was unlike anything I had ever tried before and extremely difficult. Rings flew of the plate, some cracked, some exploded, some were overpolished. I ran through so many rings before I started to get it right. I did get training from local artists and began to work on the bench torch-polishing glass for Mr. Z and advanced from there.”
Mr. Z, or W. Zorn, is the headcraftsman at Zenesis. He’s been lampworking for over a decade and took Jenniffer in as an apprentice. “His dedication to the craft and insistence that I get out from behind the sales table and the office desk was the impetus for turning me into a glassblower. He saw my fascination with the art and gave me the encouragement and training that I need to succeed in the arena, and did the same for the rest of our team,” she said.
With a strong team, Zenesis has evolved into one of the most important glass companies in the Dallas area. “We’re not as weird as Austin, yet, but we’re getting there,” Jennifer said. They make all kinds of things at Zenesis, including spoon pipes, chillums, steamrollers, nectar collectors, glass cigarette tips, one hitters, water pipes, marbles, roses, vases and so much more.
You can tell you’re looking at a Zenesis piece when you see the 8-pointed star with the Z in the center applied to the glass with platinum decals or sandcarving. They’re also best known for their sharp edges and smooth, clean lines and their fancy multi-air chamber marble traps with full-color tubing.
These days, Zenesis has moved around a bit and changed directions here and there, but they’re still attending trade shows and events in the Dallas area. At the end of the day, the passion behind this collective of artists is unparalleled, and their skill and dedication to the art is apparent in everything they make.
“I’ve tried painting, playing the piano, the violin… I’ve played in orchestras, ensembles and celtic, country, folk and rock bands. I’ve sang and given speeches in front of audiences. I’ve mastered throwing pottery on a wheel. The allure of glassblowing to me, is that it is the most difficult art I have ever encountered and it never gets easy… you just get better at fixing the mistakes along the way. Plus you can get so into the torchwork that all else melts away and it becomes meditative. I really feel like I found my true calling in life,” Jennifer said.
If you’re interested in learning more about the heads behind Zenesis, check out their website. You can also follow them on Instagram to get a real appreciation for the art that they put out. If you want to take it to the next level, you can enter to win this month’s giveaway, featuring a ton of different items from Zenesis for you to add to your collection.